The mother of a baby who was allegedly killed by her boyfriend took the stand today.
She testified in the trial of her ex-boyfriend, Dannie Joe Farnum, 30, who was charged with inflicting injuries that killed the 7-month-old baby, John Thomas "Tommy" Garcia Jr.
To read more about the case, .
Farnum allegedly injured the child on November 10, 2008, outside his girlfriend's trailer home in the 40000 block of Apple Road in Anza, prosecutor Jennifer Garcia argued Monday during opening statements.
The infant boy's biological father, John Thomas Garcia Sr., died shortly after he was born.
“My late husband and I were apprehensive at first when we found out I was pregnant, but we were happy,” Delize Sharon Preston, the child's mother, said from the stand.
In a tragic turn of events, her husband died suddenly when Tommy was just 3 months old.
Shortly thereafter, she began dating the defendant.
“I know it sounds odd dating so soon. I never went out. Johnny (ex-husband) was my only friend,” she said.
Preston and her children lived in a single wide trailer on 61 acres in Anza where Farnum often stayed with his kids, she told the court.
Soon after Preston began dating Farnum, she felt she was being used by him.
“He never contributed to anything, never helped with food, and had no car or money,” she said. “He would take my car and my gas card and disappear for two days."
Preston and Farnum argued occasionally, but never hit or harmed each other, she testified.
A grim discovery
Preston woke up around 6 am to give Tommy a bottle and start her day getting her other kids up for school.
“Tommy was a little fussy. He had impetigo near his mouth that started spreading to his ear. He also had a cold in his eyes, and I had to wipe his eyes with a warm cloth to clear away the crust,” Preston said.
The prosecuting attorney projected photos of the baby's body on a screen above the witness stand.
The first photo showed a picture of a red mark on the underside of Tommy's arm.
“I don’t remember seeing that mark,” Preston said fighting back tears.
The next photo was of the side of Tommy’s face showing a red sore near his ear.
“I knew about his rashes on his mouth and ear, but not anywhere else,” she said.
Preston and Farnum regularly used methamphetamine and smoked marijuana, but not on the day Tommy died.
In the late afternoon, she wrapped Tommy in a blanket and went outside on the porch for a little fresh air, she said. "There was a cold wind blowing so I went back inside."
"I asked Dannie to give Tommy a bottle and lay him down for a nap while I went to the store to buy ground meat to make Hamburger Helper," she recounted.
When she returned from the store, she peeked in on Tommy, who appeared to be asleep in his crib, she said.
Photos of the bedroom shown to the court depicted a soiled and bare mattress, clothing and personal items strewn about and a messy crib tucked to the side of the bed.
To see the photos, .
As she was preparing dinner, she heard Dannie yelling from the bedroom.
"He yelled, 'Sharon, Tommy's not breathing.' He sounded scared," she recalled.
She turned the hot plate off and bolted into the room, where she saw Dannie giving Tommy C.P.R.
"Dannie was cradling Tommy in his arms and giving him chest compressions and breathing into his mouth," Preston said. "I was in an absolute panic and called 911."
The prosecution then played the grainy 911 recording in which Preston begs the 911 operator for help and gives directions to the home.
As the recording was playing, Preston broke down sobbing.
The ambulance and fire department arrived and began working on the baby.
"The emergency workers told me to wait outside because they needed the space to work on Tommy," she explained.
On the way to the hospital, Preston said she asked Farnum what happened.
"He said he didn't know," she said.
While at the hospital, Preston was informed by hospital personnel that Tommy had passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
"I just couldn't believe it. He seemed fine, there was nothing wrong with him," she stated. "After we left the hospital, I never asked Dannie again what had happened."
She never suspected foul play, she said.
"I believed what they told me, that he died from SIDS, so I had no reason to question the cause of death," she said.